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Heat spoil Magic’s home opener

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The Orlando Magic were reminded of a fundamental basketball fact from the season opener on Wednesday night. In their 108-96 loss to the Miami Heat, Orlando was reminded that NBA games are 48 minutes.

The first 24 minutes were fine. The Magic took a 53-50 lead into the locker room at halftime, but the Heat came roaring out in the third quarter, outscoring Orlando 30-16 to take control of the game. Orlando never got within 10 points the rest of the way.

Hassan Whiteside had a huge game for Miami, scoring 18 points and pulling in 14 rebounds. He also blocked four shots and altered others. Goran Drajic had 16 points and dished out 6 assists.

Miami shot 49 percent from the field, thanks in large part to getting close looks and second chance points. Magic Coach Frank Vogel lamented the fact that 74 of the Heat’s 108 points were scored from inside 15 feet, or “in the paint.”

Many of those opportunities came in the second half.

“They picked up their intensity,” said Vogel. “And we didn’t execute.”

Evan Fournier scored 20 points for the Magic, while Nikola Vucevic had 17 points and 14 rebounds. In his first game with Orlando, Serge Ibaka had 14 points and seven rebounds.

The other newcomer, Bismack Biyombo, missed the game as he served a suspension for excessive flagrant fouls during last season’s playoffs.

Some of the Magic players feel Biyombo will make a difference, but who would have thought an opponent would score 74 points in the paint with Ibaka around? Elfrid Payton had more blocked shots (two) from the guard position than Ibaka.

“(Biyombo) is a monster and he is our best screener and probably our best offensive rebounder,” said Fournier. “He is just a guy with tons of energy and he plays super hard. He’s big for us.”

He will be available to the Magic for their second game of the season, Friday night in Detroit.

Though Wednesday’s loss is disappointing, Vogel and the team will not panic over one game. Asked what message he delivered to his team following the game, his answer was simple.

“Stay together. It’s a long season.”

 

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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